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COVID-19:雇主在调整背景调查计划时应考虑什么?

他行业似乎对人才的需求似乎永无止境。从支持供应链的工人到抗击 COVID-19 前线的医疗保健专业人员,现在识别和加入工人的需求比以往任何时候都更加重要。

对于许多招聘停滞的组织来说,向远程工作的转变带来了以前可能没有考虑过的新风险。眼不见心不烦的工人。

为什么要屏幕?

雇主有法律义务确保未来的工人不会对组织或其客户构成危险。当雇主在雇用个人时未能合理行事,并且该个人随后伤害他人时,就会发生疏忽雇用。一旦候选人被聘用,雇主有责任监督他们的员工并确保员工的保留不会对组织或其客户造成可能的伤害。未履行其注意义务并疏忽雇用或留用工人的雇主可能要对该工人的不良行为负责。

背景筛查是雇主招聘和保留评估的重要组成部分,因为它使雇主能够部分根据员工过去的行为合理确定员工未来的行动。举个例子,如果候选人有犯罪前科,但多年来一直保持清白,并在类似职位上受雇,这些都是很好的指标,表明工人不应给雇主带来可预见的风险。同样,如果员工的表现和定期犯罪筛查或监控令人满意,则不太可能引起恐慌。但是,如果没有背景调查,您就无法合理地评估风险。

背景调查的现状

背景筛查通常分为三个主要部分:公共记录搜索,例如审查犯罪和民事记录,验证,例如确认就业和教育资格,以及药物筛查。每个细分市场都受到 COVID-19 大流行的不同影响。

  • 公共记录

截至本报告发布时,美国超过 60% 的法院报告“开放”,这意味着法院满足公共记录搜索请求的标准程序没有任何变化的迹象或通知。大约 30% 的法院报告称“结果有限”,大约 10% 的法院已关闭其业务。

公平信用报告法(FCRA) 部分规定了雇主要求对潜在和现有员工进行背景调查的过程,以及背景调查供应商作为消费者报告机构满足这些要求的过程。FCRA 规定背景调查供应商有义务确保报告的信息完整且最新。如果法院关闭,或者书记员不在,则无法进行这些验证,即使法院有自动化系统。通过自动化或在线方式获得的某些信息需要在法庭上与某人进行验证。如果书记员不在工作,则法院的存储库可能不会更新,这就是背景调查供应商通常会避免从没有工作人员回答问题的法院报告信息的原因。

  • 验证

许多大型雇主使用自动化方法进行就业验证。只要这些雇主继续将他们的就业记录提供给这些存储库,并且这些存储库仍然有效,大多数就业验证就不会受到 COVID-19 关闭的影响。但是,使用传统方法就业的中小型雇主无法进行核实。在这些情况下,求职者可以向潜在雇主提供他们以前工作经历的证据,例如 W-2 或工资单。不过,雇主应该权衡接受未经认证的文件的风险。此外,美国多个司法管辖区已通过法律禁止雇主查询或核实候选人的薪酬历史。雇主应建议候选人从任何提供的文件中删除他们以前的薪酬,并且通常不应考虑自愿提供的任何薪酬历史来设定候选人的未来工资。

教育机构受到大流行的严重影响。与就业非常相似,许多提供高等教育学位的大型或著名机构都使用自动化方法进行学位验证。较小的机构和提供较低学位的机构大多无法进行学位验证。由于成绩单和文凭很容易被伪造,并且由于学校关闭而广泛无法认证,因此用人单位不应接受候选人提交的任何用于教育验证的文件的表面价值。

  • 药物筛选

尽管有 COVID-19,雇主仍有几种药物筛查选择。大多数大型患者服务中心(如 Quest 和 LabCorp)都在为收集服务,并且不进行 COVID-19 检测,这降低了接触传染病的风险。同样,一些提供标本采集服务的诊所也提供文本提前服务。这项服务允许候选人在线预约,并提供一个手机号码,当技术人员可以进行测试时,他们可以联系到他们,使候选人能够在他们的车里而不是在候诊室进行自我隔离。

在办公室、仓库、零售空间或其他地点保持实体存在的雇主可以考虑进行口腔液测试。使用唾液,候选人可以向工作场所报告,在那里快速拭子可以测试最近使用的可卡因、安非他明、阿片类药物、苯环利定和大麻素 (THC)。

COVID-19 中的筛查选项

  • 截断筛选

背景审查的范围因行业和职位而异。包括能源金融医疗保健运输在内的一些行业必须满足管理它们的法规中确定的特定最低背景调查要求。作为服务提供者的其他雇主可能根据合同有义务按照其与客户的协议进行筛选。还有一些雇主既不受监管,也不受合同筛选要求的约束。该组中的雇主应进行与其行业中其他人合理一致的筛选,以免在招聘或保留做法方面疏忽大意。

在 COVID-19 大流行期间,雇主可能正在考虑修改他们的筛选计划以加快招聘时间,包括暂时放弃刑事检查。但这样做会带来风险,不仅是由于疏忽招聘或疏忽保留,而且还会证明未来刑事检查的有效性。

为了防止歧视性招聘做法,1964 年《民权法案》第七章部分要求雇主证明他们的做法“与相关职位的工作相关,并符合业务需要”。如果在大流行期间,雇主选择暂停刑事检查并在将来恢复它们,那么这些做法可能会被质疑为与工作无关,也不符合业务需要,因为雇主可以在一段时间内不进行检查就进行招聘。

虽然简化背景调查程序是值得的,但缩短它可能无法为雇主提供长期有益于其组织的结果。相反,雇主应调整其计划以与当前 COVID-19 环境中的可用数据保持一致,并以保持其在《公平信用报告法》和任何适用法律或法规下的合规义务的方式进行调整。新的解决方案,例如社交媒体筛选,虽然永远不能替代犯罪搜查或其他验证,但可以为雇主提供对候选人性格的宝贵洞察。非传统来源可以帮助缩小无法获得的传统筛选来源之间的差距,并提供新的方法来构建候选人适合聘用的整体情况。

  • 就业后筛查

雇主通常以成功完成聘用前背景调查为条件。但是,在 COVID-19 环境中,完整检查的定义发生了变化。雇主们开始认识到,尽管背景审查仍然完全有可能,因为许多法院、雇主和教育机构继续运营,但其他人则无限期地处于离线状态。因此,许多雇主选择根据他们现在可以获得的信息来招聘候选人,并保留在法院、学校和其他来源可用后进行额外背景调查的权利。

虽然离职后筛查是雇主的一种选择,但他们应该认识到自己的合规义务。FCRA 和其他州法律要求雇主向为就业目的进行背景审查的个人提供披露信息并获得其授权。

雇主必须审查他们向接受背景调查的员工提供的背景调查披露,并评估这些披露是否为未来在雇佣期限内进行背景调查提供了选择。虽然F认为TC 持续授权在大多数司法管辖区都是有效的,但在加利福尼亚州,持续授权的有效性尚不清楚。加利福尼亚州的雇主通常不希望依赖正在进行的授权,即使授权表格中包含语言。因此,在要求进行背景调查时通知员工并获得新授权通常被视为最佳做法。

此外,进行离职后背景调查的雇主可能会根据背景调查的全部或部分结果决定对员工的就业产生负面影响,必须遵循 FCRA 的不利程序。雇主必须向员工提供其背景报告的副本、他们在 FCRA 和适用州法律下的权利摘要,并为员工提供合理的机会与背景调查供应商对背景报告的准确性或完整性提出异议. 然后,在雇员有一段合理的时间提出争议后,如果雇主决定终止该个人或对其就业产生其他负面影响,雇主将需要发出不利行动通知 就其在 FCRA 下的权利向候选人提供建议。

And for many organizations that are experiencing a lull in hiring, the shift to remote work presents new risks that may have been previously unconsidered. Workers who are out of sight should not be out of mind.

Why screen?

Employers have a legal duty to ensure that a prospective worker does not present a danger to the organization or its clients. Negligent hiring occurs when employers fail to act reasonably when hiring an individual, and that individual subsequently harms someone else. Once a candidate is hired, employers are responsible for supervising their employees and ensuring that a worker’s retention does not present probable harm to the organization or its clients. Employers who fall below their duty of care and negligently hire or retain a worker could be liable for that worker’s bad acts.

Background screening is a vital part of an employer’s hiring and retention assessments as it provides employers with the ability to reasonably ascertain a worker’s future actions based, in part, on their past behaviors. Case in point, if a candidate has a criminal past, but has maintained a clean slate for several years and is employed in a similar position, those are good indicators that the worker should not present a foreseeable risk to the employer.  Similarly, if the employee’s performance and periodic criminal screening or monitoring are satisfactory, then there isn’t likely a cause for alarm. But you cannot reasonably assess risk without a background check.

The current state of background screening

Background screening is typically divided into three major components: public records searches, such as a review of criminal and civil records, verifications, like confirming employment and education qualifications, and drug screening. Each segment is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic differently.

  • Public records

As of this report, more than 60% of courts in the U.S. are reporting “open,” meaning there is no indication or notice of a change in the court’s standard process for fulfilling public records search requests. Approximately 30% of courts report having “limited results” available, with around 10% of courts having closed their operations.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates, in part, the process by which employers request background checks on prospective and current employees, and the process by which background check vendors, as consumer reporting agencies, fulfill those requests. The FCRA places an obligation on background check vendors to ensure the information reported is both complete and up to date.  If a court is closed, or if clerks are unavailable, then those verifications cannot be made, even if a court has an automated system. Some information obtained by automated or online means needs to be validated with a person at the court. If clerks are not working, then courts’ repositories may not be updated, which is why background check vendors will generally avoid reporting information from courts who do not have staff available to answer questions.

  • Verifications

Many large employers utilize automated methods for conducting employment verifications. So long as these employers continue to contribute their employment records to these repositories, and those repositories remain operative, the majority of employment verifications are unaffected by COVID-19 closures. However, small and mid-sized employers that utilize traditional methods for employment are unavailable for verification. In these cases, candidates for employment can provide prospective employers with evidence of their previous work history such as a W-2 or pay stubs. Still, an employer should weigh the risk of accepting documents that are not authenticated. Also, several jurisdictions throughout the U.S. have passed laws that prohibit an employer’s inquiry into or verification of a candidate’s compensation history. Employers should advise candidates to redact their former compensation from any supplied documents, and generally should not consider any compensation history voluntarily provided to set the candidate’s future salary.

Educational institutions have been severely affected by the pandemic. Much like employment, many large or prominent institutions offering higher education degrees utilize automated methods for degree verification. Smaller institutions and those bodies offering lower degrees are mostly unavailable for degree verification. Because transcripts and diplomas are easily falsified and widely cannot be authenticated due to school closures, employers should not accept any documents submitted by candidates for education verification at their face value.

  • Drug screening

Several drug screening options remain for employers despite COVID-19. Most large patient service centers like Quest and LabCorp are operating for collections, and are not testing for COVID-19, which reduces the risk of exposure to the contagion. Similarly, some clinics offering specimen collection services provide a text-ahead service. This service allows the candidate to make appointments online and provide a mobile number where they will be reached when the technician is available for testing enabling the candidate to self-isolate in their car instead of in the waiting room.

Employers who maintain a physical presence in an office, warehouse, retail space, or other location may consider oral fluid testing. Using oral fluid, a candidate can report to the workplace where a quick swab can test for the recent use of cocaine, amphetamine, opiates, phencyclidine, and cannabinoids (THC).

Screening options amid COVID-19

  • Truncated screening

The scope of background screening differs by industry and position. Some industries including energyfinancehealthcare, and transportation must meet specific minimum background check requirements as identified within the regulations that govern them. Other employers who are service providers may be contractually obligated to undergo screening as defined within their agreements with their clients. And then there are those employers who are neither regulated nor subject to contractual screening requirements. Employers in this group are expected to conduct screenings that are reasonably aligned with others in their industry to not be negligent in their hiring or retention practices.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may be considering revising their screening programs to accelerate time to hire, including temporarily waiving criminal checks. But doing so comes with risk, not only of negligent hiring or negligent retention but of justifying the validity of criminal checks in the future.

In order to defend against discriminatory hiring practices, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires, in part, that employers demonstrate that their practices are “job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” If, during the pandemic, an employer chooses to suspend criminal checks and reinstates them in the future, those practices could be challenged as not being job related nor consistent with business necessity since the employer was able to hire without the checks for some time.

While streamlining a background check program is worthwhile, truncating it may not provide employers with the results that benefit their organization in the long-term. Instead, employers should adapt their programs to align with the data available in the current COVID-19 environment and do so in a way that maintains their compliance obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and any applicable laws or regulations. Novel solutions, such as social media screening, while never a replacement for criminal searches or other verifications, can provide employers with valuable insight into a candidate’s character. Untraditional sources can help to close the gap between unavailable traditional sources for screening, and offer new ways to build a holistic picture of a candidate’s fitness for hire.

  • Post-employment screening

Employers typically condition employment upon the successful completion of a pre-hire background check. However, the definition of a complete check has shifted in the COVID-19 environment. Employers are beginning to recognize that while background screening is still entirely possible as many courts, employers, and educational institutions continue to operate, others are offline for an indefinite period. As such, many employers chose to hire candidates based on the information available to them now, and are reserving the right to conduct additional background checks post-hire, once courts, schools, and other sources become available.

While post-employment screening is an option for employers, they should recognize their compliance obligations. The FCRA and other state laws require that employers provide disclosure to and receive authorization from individuals undergoing background screening for employment purposes.

Employers must review the background check disclosures that they provided to their employees who have undergone background checks and assess if those disclosures provided for the option for future background checks over the term of employment. While the FTC has opined that ongoing authorization would be valid in most jurisdictions, in California, the validity of continuing authorization is unclear. Employers in California would generally not want to rely on an ongoing authorization even if the language was in the authorization form. Therefore, it’s usually viewed as a best practice to notify employees and obtain a new authorization whenever a background check is requested.

In addition, employers who run post-employment background checks who may decide to negatively affect a worker’s employment, based in whole or in part on the results of the background check, must follow the FCRA’s pre-adverse process. Employers are required to provide the employee with a copy of their background report, a summary of their rights under the FCRA and applicable state laws, and give the employee a reasonable opportunity to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the background report with the background check vendor. And then, after the employee has had a reasonable period in which to initiate a dispute, if an employer decides to terminate that individual or otherwise negatively affect their employment, the employer will need to send out an adverse action notice advising the candidate of their rights under the FCRA.

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